Pope's Brazilian cousins lament his death

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Saturday, April 9, 2005

BrazilPope John Paul II has a Brazilian cousin living in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. He is João Woidyla, 83, and he came to Brazil in 1914, before John Paul II was born in March, 18, 1920.

According to the story told by local news agencies, the Pope's last name was Woidyla too, like João's. The Pope changed it to Wojtyła when he left Poland to avoid political persecution. The grandfather of João Woidyla is José Woidyla, who was brother of Pope's grandfather. João's family discovered the relationship when Karol was elected Pope. The pope himself recognized the relationship and sent him a letter.

Pope John Paul II has other cousins in Brazil too: Isidoro, Alfreda, Genoveva (João's wife) and Bolessuaf.

Bolessuaf, 86, likes to read the card written in Polish that he received from his cousin, the Pope.

"A great man, who always fought for the good of the others", he adds.

João and his wife Genoveva met the pope John Paul II during his visit to Brazil in 1980.

The cousins got very sad when they heard that the Pope was gone. "To me, he seems to be a brother, more than my own brother ", said Isidoro. João said about the Pope: "I think he did the work what should be done. I hope the next one works like him". He added: "It is like to lose a father, I am very sad".

According to Folha de São Paulo, Brazilian government invited João to take part in the funeral of the Pope. He declined saying that he is afraid of flying in airplanes.